Health Care Crisis

By Claire Rogers

President-Elect Obama’s Transition Team has asked for public input regarding the health care crisis in America. We recently hosted a community discussion on the subject and we got an earful.

A recurring theme held strong among the many comments: end users are not represented in decisions about their health care. This was most noticeable with the evolution of the Medicare Part D prescription program, an initially good idea that was severely corrupted by heavy hitting drug company lobbyists.

“The pharmaceutical companies are raping us,” said Jack, when asked his opinion of the mysterious financial “doughnut hole” that is trapping many seniors. Katy had horror stories of abrupt changes to her drug coverage, leaving her the only option of periodically skipping her medications. May was overwhelmed with the paperwork involved in caring for her mother.

Consumers are put in the passive position of reacting to medical care rather than being proactive while doctors are pressured into generating high turnover rates. Is this healthy for anyone?

What if users could design the end product? The Future of Family Medicine developed a report exposing our fractured health care system and the loss of connection between doctors and patients. According to their findings: “There is a pervasive need and desire for family physicians and the personal, integrated care they provide, not only among individual patients, but among the broader health care and business communities as well.” Their recommendations indicated that family physicians need to play a role in education, leadership and advocacy in the future.

What if individuals understood the long-tern consequences of unhealthy lifestyles? Recent evidence from the Rand Corporation emphasizes that there is no evidence that prevention or disease management saves money, and that’s fine if the ultimate goal is only to save money (take a look at the funding sources for the project). If the goal however is to keep people healthy in the long-term, perhaps we need to adjust the economic model. According to the Huffington Post blog, Negawatts and Negabeds, the economic model for health care should not be as financially rewarding for sickness as it is for wellness. In order to stay well, individuals need health information that will maintain their incentive.

Dr. Pamela Wible of Eugene, Oregon, is encouraging doctors to ditch the medical sweatshop for a rewarding small practice with low overhead and more time for patients. For an uplifting view of what health care could be, read her May 22, 2006 article from the Eugene Register-Guard at by clicking on this link at their Article Archives.

Dr. Pamela Wible explains her “ideal medical practice” concepts.

For health care reform to work for us, we need advocates, from the hospital bedside to the legislature. Who will be our advocates? Clearly, AARP did not do a sufficient job of vetting the Medicare Part D program. The days of expecting a group to represent us may be fading fast because it is too easy for a recognized mouthpiece to be won over by less than altruistic influences. That said, talk to your doctor about the state of the industry, and learn as much as you can about the options being considered. Given the chance, doctors can be our allies in reforming the system. Small is beautiful.

To make your voice heard, participate in the Citizen’s Briefing Book at CitizensBriefingBook.Change.gov.

This is a reprint of an article that was originally featured on JustOneOpinion.com Claire would like to share it with the readers of our site. For more writings by Claire and Bob, visit www.JustOneOpinion.com


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